Category Archives: Blog

Dinorwic Quarries, Llanberis, North Wales – Sketches and Happy Snaps

I had the chance to visit the Dinorwic Quarries in North Wales on Good Friday.  I wanted to go back there having been in the lower levels of the quarries whilst on a work shop with Richard Childs.  Unfortunately due to the weather, we didn’t get a chance to explore the higher reaches of the dinorwic quarries, and with my general lack of fitness it would have taken us sometime as a party to get up there!  However on Friday I did (it did take a while).

It should be noted that save for a rather boring path through the quarry the rest of the area is fenced off to varying degrees of rigor and even those areas with razor wire topped fence can be circumvented with a little imagination.  So if you do choose to go there having read this, you do so at your on risk etc….

I came across this Google Map of the Dinowric Quarries area that is marked up with what is what – https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=109915291015428156362.000454917b26c70160baa&dg=feature .  It is a really handy guide as to what is what in the area.  My goal was the Australia level, where I was told there was a slate cutting workshop with the machinery still largely in place.  The lower level workshops have been either knocked down completely or left standing with the machinery removed.  As a general principle, the higher up you go in the Dinorwic Quarries, the more there is to find that is intact(ish).  There is even a mess room (not on the Australia level) that has coats hanging up on the wall – albeit they have been nibbled as far as a goat can reach.  Incidentally, this mess room is “looked after”, in so much as people seem to camp out in it, so the goat/sheep poo that you find many inches deep in other buildings (as I found in this lower level compressor room)  is not to be found here.

I’ve included below some processed “sketches” and below  that some happy snaps of the place.  I also took some pinhole shots of the slate cutting workshop for my project and a “number” of rolls on Velvia, but those will have to go to Peak Imaging for processing – no doubt I will grace these pages with the results of that.  As it was really sunny (i.e. shockingly bad for photography) I tended to go in really close for what may be described as more intimate landscapes.  On Dinorwic 6 of 7 I was playing with scale and hoping to produce something that didn’t belie its scale – it was only having finished processing it that I realised that there is something in the shot that completely gives it away – can you see it?

 

Dinorwic (1 of 7)

Dinorwic (2 of 7)

Dinorwic (3 of 7)

 

Dinorwic (4 of 7)

Dinorwic (6 of 7)

Dinorwic (5 of 7)

Dinorwic (7 of 7)

Dinorwic Quarries Happy Snaps

Dinorwic Happy Snaps (1 of 6)

Dinorwic Happy Snaps (2 of 6)

Dinorwic Happy Snaps (3 of 6)

Dinorwic Happy Snaps (4 of 6)

Dinorwic Happy Snaps (5 of 6)

Dinorwic Happy Snaps (6 of 6)

 

Ties to the Land Pinhole Photography Project

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you might know that I have a couple of pinhole photography projects going on.  My main focus these past couple months has been my “Ties to the Land” pinhole photography project.  There has been a subtle change in approach, instead of coming across scenes that I think will fit the intent of the project, I ‘m now (on the whole) actively seeking out locations that fit the project.  The list is growing all the time, but quite how I’m going to get close enough to RAF Menwith Hill with a pinhole camera to do the “golf balls” any justice I’m not quite sure! (If you see me in the news you’ll know why. :) )

I have had a bit of surge in momentum these past couple of months, but for some reason I’ve been holding back on sharing them like I usually do, not sure why that is the case.

 

Ties to the Land XII : Formby Beach Footprints

The above photograph is currently the last photo in my planned mini ebook – a sort of “Story so far…”.  Its of Formby Beach near Liverpool where a layer of mud has been revealed that contains footprints of all sorts of animals (including humans) dating back to the Neolithic area – some 4,000 years old.  Its quite humbling to know that you’re nothing special and that humans have walked this very land long before us and our technology came along.  In its own way, that’s why I feel pinhole photography in all its basic-ness lends itself quite well to this project.

I’ve added a good number of new photographs to the project, some using infra red film (as it was sunny last weekend!), please have a visit over at – http://www.alastairrossphotography.co.uk/ties-to-the-land-stonework-pinhole-photography-project/

Malham and Ribblesdale Sketches

Some quick sketches from my recent trip in Malham and Ribblesdale in the Yorkshire Dales – unfortunately I never got the opportunity to get the big camera out to take some “proper” shots, so these will have to suffice.

Malham and Ribblesdale (1 of 5)

Malham and Ribblesdale (2 of 5)

Malham and Ribblesdale (3 of 5)

Malham and Ribblesdale (4 of 5)

Malham and Ribblesdale (5 of 5)

Gordale Beck, Malham, Yorkshire Dales National Park

Gordale Beck Barn Door

Gordale Beck Barn Door

Green

Green

 

Two from my recent bimble along Gordale Beck near Malham in the  Yorkshire Dales National Park whilst on a workshop with David Ward.  Both taken on Velvia using a smart phone to do the metering as I’d forgotten my spot meter (I’m still cross at myself for that!).

You can find more from that day and some other photographs that concentrate on texture and form in my gallery - http://www.alastairrossphotography.co.uk/texture-form/

 

 

Dinorwic Quarry, Llanberis, North Wales

Dinorwic Quarry, North Wales

Dinorwic Quarry, North Wales

 

Here’s one I’m not quite sure about. It was taken in a sheep poo filled plant room in the Dinorwic Quarry above Llanberis in North Wales.  I do love the colours but I’m still not sure.  I’ve been struggling a bit with my colour film photography having switched from the ever versatile Kodak Portra 400, which I’m told on good authority is the “honey badger” of film :) to Kodak Portra 160, I just don’t seem to be getting it right.

The reason for the switch from Portra 400 to Portra 160 was purely financial, there is about a £0.50 per roll difference in cost.  And whilst not a lot, it does add up, especially when I had the opportunity to buy a lot of film up last September.  That said now I’m beginning to doubt myself, is 50p a roll worth it when (I feel) I’m wasting so much film “getting my eye” in with Portra 160?

Loch Buie Stone Circle and Outlier

Going through some old films and getting them processed and came across this “keeper”.  Taken on my Hasselblad Xpan using Ilford Pan F.

 

Loch Buie Stone Circle and Outlier

Loch Buie Stone Circle and Outlier

 

Click on the image to see it “slightly” bigger.

For more information about the Loch Buie Stone Circle – have a look here.

What a difference a crop makes…

….or does it?

 

I posted on Twitter the question of “Is the bit on the right distracting?”

Llanberis Colored Rock and Slate I

Llanberis Coloured Rock and Slate I

 

I was half expecting the responses to be a bit like those if you ask “Does my bum look big in this?”  (NB: Men, the correct answer is “No”), but actually on this occasion I got a differing response – “Yes” – it was distracting.  So I cropped the image down.  That said I did lose the interesting vein of bluey greeness.

 

Llanberis Coloured Rock and Slate II

Llanberis Coloured Rock and Slate II

Then the following day I got different responses from friends in the Twittersphere that made me challenge my original thinking about the necessity for a crop – there was more to explore in the original image (and I would agree).  So I’m left with two equally compelling images, that said I feel I am now coming full circle and if I had to choose I would probably choose #1

 

What do you think and why?

 

North Wales Quarries

I spent the last weekend in North Wales in and around Llanberis on a workshop with Richard Childs.  Whilst the weather was very much against us, we still managed to get out on all days to explore the unique man made environment of disused slate mines and quarries in North Wales.

I took with me (as ever) my Bronica SQa with a selection films, but I choose to use Velvia 50 in preference to everything else.  With Richard’s expert guidance (and persistence!) I think I may have finally got to grips with Velvia.  What is telling is that I only came away with 4 exposed films of 120 for a three day trip – does this mean I’m becoming more confident with my exposures or more selective in my subject matter or both?

Below is a selection of some of the exposures I took using Velvia 50 around the North Wales quarries.  Some images are stronger than others, and the one I particularity wanted to work (the builders shop shot) didn’t work nearly as well as I would have liked.  But, all of them are as they were when they were scanned with minimal tweaking, the histograms don’t show clipping in the blacks and white – so in theory there is detail in the blacks (but my little Epson V700 isn’t up to the job).

It would be great to know which one(s) work for you and why?

 

 

The Assemblage Point

I take the name from The Hedge Druid’s postings about Nine Grey Ladies Stone Circle in the Derbyshire Peak District up on Stanton Moor.  The point is an oak tree on the periphery of the stone circle.  The tree usually has wiccan symbols hanging from it along with other gifts and keepsakes.

The Assemblage Point

Another feature of this “Wishing Tree” is that people hang messages on the tree or screw them up and leave the messages in cracks in the oak’s bark, a bit like the Western Wall in Jerusalem.  All in the hope that their wishes, dreams, aspirations or prayers are answered by whatever the powers are that move our lives.

ASSEMBLAGE (3 of 7)

The Assemblage Point

You have to wonder at the depths of despair people have reached to post messages on a tree, I have a sense that many have hit rock bottom, when they talk of their addictions, others just want “more money” (don’t we all!) and more of the trappings of a well off life.

IMAG0340 (1)

Nine Grey Ladies is a bit of an odd place – its far from being my favourite stone circle – that accolade is reserved for Nine Stone Close or Doll Tor Stone Circle.    The circle itself has in the past been enclosed by a stone wall  and has been threatened with quarrying.  Its proven to be a bit of a magnet for people wanting to camp out and get drunk judging by the detritus that I often find on trips up there.

ASSEMBLAGE (1 of 7)

Stanton Moor has more to offer than just the Nine Grey Ladies – there are three other circles on the moor along with ten’s of burial mounds dating back to Neolithic times.  All of the circles are in a state of decline, but each I feel, offers more peace than the magnet that is Nine Grey Ladies Stone Circle.

ASSEMBLAGE (6 of 7)

 

On using Rollei Infra Red film

I’ve previously written about using the now defunct Efke 820 Aura Infra Red film.  When the factory in Croatia closed, I didn’t think much about it – more of a “ho hum” than a “Oh no!”  My logic being was that there are other infra films out there.  I opted to use use Rollei Infra Red film – which is rated at ISO 400, that with an IR filter makes it ISO 6 – slow, but twice as fast as Efke Aura.  Which when you’re using it for pinhole and applying the “Sunny 16″ rule, makes for an exposure of about 5 minutes.

 

Rollie Infra Red Shot of Barbrook I Stone Circle

Rollei Infra Red Shot of Barbrook I Stone Circle

Rollei Infra Red Shot of 9 Grey Ladies Stone Circle

Rollei Infra Red Shot of 9 Grey Ladies Stone Circle

One of the things I didn’t consider when switching from Efke, is the lack of “Aura” effect in the Rollei Infra Red film.  Efke 820 came in two flavours – plain Infra Red and “Aura”, which added a soft halo effect around the subject.

 

Froggatt Stone Circle using Efke 820 Aura

Froggatt Stone Circle using Efke 820 Aura

Having only developed two rolls of Rollei Infra Red film, I find it quite stark in comparison to the almost dream like Efke 820 Aura.

Wet Withins Long Barrow using Rollei Infra red film

Wet Withins Long Barrow using Rollei Infra red film

 

Wet Withins Stone Circle using Rollei Infra red film

Wet Withins Stone Circle using Rollei Infra red film

Rollei Infra Red film, seems to be quite contrasty which makes it quite stark, I feel, in comparison to Efke 820 Aura.

Gardoms Standing Stone using Efke 820 Aura

Gardoms Standing Stone using Efke 820 Aura

Beggars can’t be choosers with the ever decreasing choice of films, and I think I will miss Efke Aura, but perhaps not enough to make me pay the £14 people are wanting for a roll of 120 on Ebay at present, so I will have to persevere with Rollei Infra Red film.

I don’t think any shots on my first two rolls of Rollei will make it in to my Ties to the Land/Stonework project – but I hope with a bit more practice I will make something that is up to scratch for inclusion :)